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  1. John Michael Kreatsoulas

    John Michael Kreatsoulas, a Florida resident and owner of Omni Reptiles, Inc. in Alva, Florida, recently pleaded guilty in federal court for his involvement in illegally exporting thousands of wild-caught turtles to Hong Kong and Germany.…
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    Mud turtles are displayed at a news conference at the Customs Department in Bangkok on June 2, 2011. Pornchai Kittiwongsakul / AFP - Getty Images file A Florida man pleaded guilty to smuggling thousands of turtles to Germany and Hong Kong and falsifying documents to conceal his crimes.
    Turtles play crucial ecological roles in their respective ecosystems, and their illegal trade can disrupt fragile habitats and endanger species. Efforts to address wildlife trafficking require collaboration among law enforcement agencies, conservation organizations, and the public.
    The illegally acquired and exported turtles had a total market value of at least $125,000, underscoring the lucrative nature of wildlife trafficking. Kreatsoulas now faces serious legal consequences, with a sentencing hearing scheduled for May 17. He could potentially receive a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison for each count.
    Kreatsoulas would ship the wildlife through Miami International Airport and falsify U.S Fish and Wildlife Service forms so they said the turtles were captive-bred and not captured from the wild, the Justice Department said. He ran the scheme from July 2015 to July 2021, officials said.
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